Discovering what the French ski slopes are like in the age of Covid

Ready, steady, snow! With France open again, skiing’s back on and the pistes set fair. But what are the slopes like in the age of Covid?

  • Conditions for skiing are ‘excellent’ or at least ‘pretty good’ in France this year 
  • Tom Chesshyre visits Les Deux Alpes to find out what it’s like on the mountains
  • Unvaccinated children over 12 must take lateral flow tests daily to access lifts 

President Macron has seen sense and reopened French borders to British tourists — giving the ski season a much-needed booster.

Weather-wise, it has been a promising start for skiing in the French Alps. goes as far as saying conditions are ‘excellent’ or at least ‘pretty good’ — not just in France but across Europe, especially in Meribel, Chamonix, Val d’Isere, Flaine and Avoriaz.

With Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Andorra open, too, skiing is more or less back to normal, as long as Covid regulations in each country are followed.

Blue-sky thinking: The view of the French Alps from Les Menuires ski resort. ‘Weather-wise, it has been a promising start for skiing in the French Alps,’ Tom reveals

A happy skiing family on the slopes. In France, unvaccinated children over 12 must take lateral flow tests every 24 hours to access lifts

But what’s it like on the mountains in France? Just before Macron closed the door, we headed to Les Deux Alpes to find out.

But there are a few French Covid rules you have to know about. The first is the need to have a pass sanitaire (health pass) proving you are fully vaccinated. The over-65s must have had a booster jab, too.

This ‘Covid passport’, available to download on the TousAntiCovid app, is required to book ski passes and enter restaurants and bars.

The big drawback is that unvaccinated children over 12 must instead take lateral flow tests every 24 hours to access lifts — done via pharmacies or special test centres at £22 a go. This adds £132 per child to week-long holidays.

‘The tests are so frustrating,’ said Sarah Sullivan, a teacher from Maidstone in Kent, skiing on the glacier with her two children, Theo, 15, and Zach, 13. Although she had no complaints about the skiing: ‘The conditions are great.’ What about rules on the mountain? Rather than show a pass sanitaire or results each morning — which could lead to long queues — random checks are being made at some lifts. At mountain restaurants, staff will request pass sanitaires.

Cable cars in Les Deux Alpes. According to Tom, riding lifts is ‘more pleasant than usual’ with reduced numbers of skiers permitted in each car 

Les Deux Alpes at night. ‘Regarding apres ski, do not expect wild parties,’ writes Tom


Seven nights at Hotel Serre-Palas from £998pp half-board with flights from Gatwick and transfers ( Best ski school: More information at

Riding lifts is, if anything, more pleasant than usual. On the Jandri Express cable car, for example, the capacity has been reduced from 25 to 20. 

Meanwhile, better zig-zag, airport-style queues have been introduced, meaning fewer argie-bargies. On all lifts, bear in mind masks are obligatoire. ‘Mask! Mask!’ attendants cry.

Regarding apres ski, do not expect wild parties. At Pub Windsor in the village, hardly a soul was about at 6pm.

At hotels, little appears to have changed, though you must book saunas and hot tubs. 

Ski hire shops are also much the same. All in all, as long as children are double-jabbed, it’s business as usual. And as one skier on the glacier said: ‘Who cares about the hassle? Just look around. We’re here now.’ 



Good snowfall in the Three Valleys with 190cm of snow on upper slopes at Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens. Val d’Isere has 180cm, while Les Deux Alpes has a decent 150cm. Argentiere and Alpe d’Huez also looking good.

Booster jabs are mandatory for anyone aged 18-64 who has been fully vaccinated for seven months. Pass sanitaire (Covid passes) are required for lifts; available to double-jabbed children or they must take daily lateral flow tests. Wear masks on lifts.


Nearly all of the ski lifts are open at the Austrian resort of Obergurgl, pictured 

Almost all lifts open at Obergurgl, where top slopes have 180cm. Lech and Kaprun have also begun well. St Anton has an upper base of 175cm.

Must have had booster jab and show proof of a negative test taken before travel. Children under 12 exempt. Unvaccinated kids aged 12-15 can get special ski passes. Masks mandatory on lifts. No apres ski ‘for the time being’.


Decent cover in Cervinia in the Aosta Valley with upper-piste snow depth of 100cm, but less snow in the Dolomites.

Must show you are fully vaccinated and have recent negative test (children under six exempt). New rules at Italian ski resorts state you must have full winter sports insurance or face a £125 fine. For ski lifts, bars and restaurants you have to be fully vaccinated (NHS app accepted).


A ski lift at Verbier. The Swiss resort has 105cm of snow on the upper slopes

Saas-Fee has a superb 200cm on top slopes, while Verbier has a reasonable 105cm. Klosters and Davos are both reporting 112cm.

Must be fully vaccinated and have tested negative for Covid. NHS app proof of double vaccination accepted for entering bars/restaurants and for ski lifts, on which masks must be worn. Children under 18 travelling with vaccinated parents are considered to ‘mirror’ their vaccination status.


Both doing well, especially Baqueira-Beret in the Pyrenees with a snow depth ranging from 170cm on lower slopes to 275cm on those at top. Andorra’s Pas de la Casa has 90cm-170cm.

All aged 12 and over must be fully vaccinated to visit; under 12s exempt. Masks required on lifts and proof of vaccination (NHS Covid app accepted) for bars and restaurants.


There are ‘generally good conditions’ at the Canadian resort of Lake Louise, pictured

Generally good conditions with Lake Louise and Banff in Canada off to a great start, while Whistler, after a slow beginning, now has 256cm on top slopes. In the U.S., deep snow at Mammoth, Squaw Valley, Snowbird and Timberline.

Canada and the U.S. require proof of being fully vaccinated and having taken a negative Covid test before travel. Rules vary between states and provinces on mask wearing and rules for entering bars/restaurants and taking lifts. However, if you have met the requirements to enter the countries you should be fine.

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